a walk to where I go

July 7, 2010

“Wanna walk to Squirrel Hill?” I asked my housemate on a day the weatherman had just informed me would be “oppressively hot.” It was a 2.5-mile trek across Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Each way.

She looked at me like I was crazy. “Well…” she mustered with a disapproving look on her face. She was sitting at her computer looking at pictures on Facebook. “Do you have anything else to do today?” I offered as the only reason I had for why this was a good idea. It worked.

So we set out on our trip. I was inspired by my 60-year-old coworker who lives in Squirrel Hill and walks to and from work every day in East Liberty. Most of the people I work with drive the four blocks down the road to get from our main offices to our food pantry, but this alternative mentality of walking several-mile distances daily seemed so appealing. Usually I bike everywhere, but something about the steady clarity of walking matched the slow-motion mood of the oppressively hot day.

The walk wasn’t great.

By what we decided was the halfway point, we were sweat-dusted and had drained our water bottles in us. We stopped at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to browse the air conditioning. Our flip-flopped feet were blistering and aching. We stuffed leaves between skin and shoe to dull the pain.

We made it to Ten Thousand Villages, the destination we intended to reach, and back. Even with the difficulties—and likely because of them—walking along with us, it felt like an adventure. Much more than rolling in a car to a store could have. It reminded me of when I lived in Uganda and no one paid much attention to time because everyone walked most places and the journey was just as important as the destination.

The journey is just as important as the destination.

Every Wednesday night for the past two months, you could find me straddling a spinning ceramics wheel in the basement of Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and (somewhat unsuccessfully) trying to make my hands create shapes of usable mugs or bowls. Too many times I ended up with crumpled messes of wet clay and the need to start over again.

 

Just as my class is concluding, I am concluding that wheel-throwing is not my thing. Because while I find much delight and admiration when receiving handmade ceramic pieces from other people, I’ve found myself lacking in eagerness to keep making things.

 

Spinning clay is just not my choice venue for creation.

 couldn't sleep

Because there are other areas of creation—like with the quilt I’m currently working on (and will be working on for what currently feels like forever) or with compiling words—where I can get so immersed in what I’m doing that it keeps me up at night, only willing to welcome sleep if it arrives partnered with a sense of completion.

 

So here’s to the things that keep us willingly awake at night.